The latest ministerial guidelines state that teachers must place the performance of their profession in the perspective of continuous improvement and establish the necessary means to develop and update their professional skills. However, this duty of continuous education is sometimes hindered by major obstacles related mainly to logistics (ways, costs, time, duration, place) and professional context (lack of time and resources due to lack of manpower). ).
Coping with the diversity of needs and especially the disruptive behavior of some students is also a major challenge that creates glaring training needs for many teachers. Disruptive student behavior can lead to teacher stress and is even considered the single most important cause of burnout.
Given that professional development is associated with the adoption of better professional practices, with an improvement in the feeling of personal effectiveness and, consequently, with a feeling of well-being at work, it is appropriate to consider methods of professional development taking into account the reality of the teaching profession.
We have invested in research to implement practices that support student success and are interested in the potential of massive online learning (Massive online open course – MOOC) for the professional development of teachers.
What is a MOOC?
A MOOC is a free online course that can cater to an unlimited number of students with no admission requirements and whose content is designed and structured by experts, usually academics, in the field. Participants are invested in a learning process that respects their pace, their need for commitment and aims to update their knowledge using different methods: videos, reading, questionnaires, discussions, experiments, etc.
MOOCs targeting teachers are few and relatively new. Of course, due to their innovative aspect, which allows students to complete quality training, free of charge and at a time that suits them best, they promise to support the professional development of teachers. In this line and in response to the need for training in the field of intervention with students with behavioral problems, Laval University developed the MOOC “The point on ADHD: understanding, supporting and accompanying young people”.
Based on research-recognized effective practices in professional development and intervention with young people with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), this MOOC aims to train school staff working with young people aged 5-17 with ADHD to implement effective intervention practices with them. This training also aims to encourage participants to reflect on their practices to make changes deemed necessary to support the educational success of students with ADHD.
Hyperactivity, inattention and resistance
At school, students with ADHD may have difficulty maintaining attention, organizing themselves, regulating their level of verbal and motor activity, controlling and suppressing their behavior, and establishing quality relationships with their peers and teachers. In addition to hindering the educational success of students with ADHD, these manifestations can have a negative impact on the well-being of teachers. In fact, behaviors related to hyperactivity and inattention, as well as opposition, cause the most stress for teachers. Thus, compared to other students with special needs, those with ADHD cause teachers to have more doubts and a greater need for support.
In light of these findings, this training, divided into four modules, first offers an overview of ADHD based on recent scientific literature to enable stakeholders in the educational environment to better understand its symptoms and manifestations. It then explores different intervention approaches and strategies that can help school staff intervene more effectively with students with ADHD and better support them in their development and learning at school.
This MOOC is specifically a toolkit containing a range of effective strategies. Specific interventions related mainly to school learning (success in reading, writing and mathematics), development of social skills, emotional regulation, anxiety and oppositional behavior are also presented.
Better equipped teachers
This MOOC has just finished its fourth edition. To date, it has attracted more than 35,000 participants. The results of the research conducted during its 2nd year (winter 2020) show the satisfaction of the participants (overall satisfaction rate 86%). In addition, 90% of respondents believe that their participation in MOOCs has enabled them to develop their knowledge, adopt better attitudes and intervene more effectively with students with ADHD. In addition, the results of this study demonstrate an improvement in the sense of self-efficacy for teaching students with ADHD between the beginning and the end of the MOOC. Thus, after the MOOC, the vast majority of participating teachers feel more competent and equipped to intervene with these students.
The results of this research encourage MOOCs to be considered as a promising professional development activity to promote the adoption of effective practices among students and to promote the mental well-being of teachers. In fact, this is the scenario that allows us to believe in the potential of MOOCs to meet the educational needs of teachers. The use of this innovative technology is an important step forward in education and has social significance, as it contributes to the availability of quality university educational activities.
Those responsible for teacher professional development in collaboration with postsecondary educational institutions would do well to consider the potential of MOOCs to meet teacher education needs.